What would you tell your younger self if you had just five minutes with them? What wisdom would you share, what insight would you provide, what warnings would you scream to help them avoid what, at the time, seemed pretty unavoidable based on exactly who we were back then?
If I had five minutes with former me, I think I’d use that time to talk about the dysfunctional, toxic, and narcissistic relationships in my life. Looking back, there are three crucial lessons I wish I could share with my younger self to help me stop wasting so much time in places where the lines got blurred, the boundaries got dismissed, and I got ten kinds of tangled up in a lot of unnecessary emotional heavy lifting.
Three things I would tell my younger self include:
You Actually Can Not Heal Someone Else’s Wounds
We live in a culture that conditions us to believe it’s not only our job to accept other people’s harmful behavior — but also that it’s somehow our job to help them be less harmful. It’s a vicious, toxic, endless cycle of
Maybe if I wait to say it…
Maybe if I say it this way…
Maybe if I don’t say it at all…
In hopes of somehow finding the perfect way to harmoniously exist with someone who is in complete disharmony with themselves.
When I first started healing, I believed growth meant understanding it wasn’t my job to heal someone else’s wounds.
I know better now.
I would tell my younger self that it’s not that it’s not my job to heal someone else’s wounds— it’s that it’s actually not possible for me to heal someone else’s wounds.
Wanting To Talk About a Problem Should Never Be a Problem
I spent years believing that unwavering silence in the name of “keeping the peace” was a reasonable cost of entry in my relationships.
Open and honest communication, even about difficult topics, forms the basis of our healthy connections. One thing that I would remind my younger self is that people who get outraged at your wanting to resolve harm, chaos, and issues they created — are simply not your people. Healthy relationships, more specifically relationships grounded in love, thrive on open dialogue, empathy, and a shared commitment to growth and resolution.
It’s always okay to swim away from anything that feels like drowning
Younger me bought into the cultural belief that stoically enduring bad behavior somehow made me a good person; that allowing myself to be continuously pulled into deeper waters with stronger currents somehow meant I was loyal — it doesn’t. I would tell my younger self to swim away from anyone or anything that always feels like drowning.
Knowing that it’s always okay to release what keeps pulling me under so I can finally make my way to safer shores feels like Freedom.
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